Young children are fond of popping just about anything they can find into their mouth. It’s simply their curious nature at play.
But the danger of course, is that children aren’t able to recognise harmful substances. They’re attracted by colourful packaging and often can’t tell the difference between a tablet and a sweet.
This is why safe medicine storage is so important in your home.
According to Cape Town-based Dr Oscar Setsubi, the vital message around safe medicine storage is: prevention. Everyone in society has a role in preventing accidental ingestion, especially in children, he says.
Research shows that children under the age of six are at a greater risk of accidental exposure to medication. Accidental poisoning peaks between the ages of one and two. Medication poisonings in the teen years are often intentional or the result of an unintended overdose.
“Fatal poisoning rates in low-income and middle-income countries are four times that of high-income countries. Africa, low-income and middle-income countries in Europe and the Western Pacific Regions have the highest rates,” explains Dr Setsubi.
According to the Tygerberg Poison Information Centre’s annual report of 2014, the number of exposures in children (47.7%) was similar to the exposures in adults (45.8%).
Keep Your Kids Safe
Remove harmful substances from your child’s environment. This includes poisonous plants, access to petrol and paraffin, lead-based paint and other toxic substances.
Store all your medication in a place your children can’t reach. Find a place in your home that’s inaccessible to your little one. This could be the highest shelf or a lockable cupboard. But, remember that some children can climb. They may use the toilet or countertops to reach high places. So, lock or childproof your cabinets at all times. Put away your medicine after you use it. Don’t leave it out for convenience.
Explain the seriousness of medicine to your child. Don’t describe medication as vitamins or “sweets” as this simply confuses your child, and could lead to trouble! Explain that medicine can be dangerous and must be taken only when you administer it.
When people visit and are carrying medication, ask them to make sure it’s locked safely away in their bags.
Always measure out the correct amount as prescribed by the doctor. Don’t “guess” the dosage.
Get rid of out-of-date medication.
Use the safety caps on medication bottles. Always remember to relock the safety cap on a medicine bottle. If the medicine has a locking cap that turns, twist it until you hear the click.
First Aid For An Overdose Emergency
Call emergency services if your child shows signs of poisoning or is unconscious. Provide information about the medication that was taken, the amount, how it entered the body, and when it was taken. Keep the bottle or packaging handy.
Perform CPR if your child is unconscious and not breathing, but first check for poisonous material around the mouth. Wash the area around the mouth and if necessary, use a barrier device.
DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.